When I first began this project, of choosing a tarot card at random and blogging about it for the forty days of Lent, I looked forward to today, Good Friday, and I hoped I'd draw the Hanged Man. The Hanged Man would be the prefect card to talk about on the anniversary of Jesus' crucifixion. I also looked forward to today and thought that the page of wands would be the one impossible card, one I couldn't possibly blog about on Good Friday.
Well, guess which card I drew. Yes, the page of wands.
The page of wands represents a youthful, adventurous, happy-go-lucky, in-love-with-life individual and individualist. I call this the "hippie" card.
What to say about the page on Good Friday?
I just looked at the classic Rider-Waite-Smith image of the page of wands. I listed inside my head all the reasons it is an inappropriate card for Good Friday.
And then I saw it in a whole new way.
The youthful page is gazing at his – WAND – which is a branch taken from a tree. The branch should be dead, unable to produce new, green shoots.
Except that it *isn't* dead. This branch *is* producing new, green shoots.
I was just listening to the Brian Lehrer radio call-in show, and callers were talking about how they see the cross as a symbol of Christianity.
One woman named Maureen, I think, talked about how she thinks about the tree from which the cross was created. How painful, she said, for a part of nature to be exploited so cruelly. She said she reads folklore that talks about the various tree species that might have made up the tree on which Jesus hung.
One website reproduces a Scottish poem that identifies the elder with the crucifixion:
"Bour-tree, bour-tree, crookit rung,
Never straight and never strong,
Eer bush, and never tree,
Since our Lord was nailed t'ye"
Another website includes another poem that says that the yew tree was used
"And they went down into yonder town
and sat in the Gallery,
And there they saw sweet Jesus Christ
Hanging from a big Yew tree."
And yet another website recounts an even more elaborate tale:
"An old Greek myth relates that when the announcement of Christ's crucifixion was made, all the trees met together and agreed that none of them wished to be part of the event. When the time came for the wood to be selected by the soldiers, each piece began to split and break into many other pieces, making it impossible to use.
Only the evergreen oak or the 'Ilex' did not split and allowed itself to be used. Hence, the other trees looked upon the oak as a traitor. Some Greek people will not have any part of the evergreen oak tree brought into the house, or allow their axes to come into contact with the tree. The tree is seen to be eternally condemned."
There's lots more folklore you can find on the web about the species of tree used in the crucifixion, and how the tree "felt" about being so used, and how others feel about it.
Maureen, the radio-call-in-show caller, also talked about the MOAB that was dropped in Afghanistan yesterday. She said that she thought of all the wild animals that the bomb killed, in addition to its human targets. She said that Christ's sacrifice on the cross, on a tree, a part of nature, cause her to feel compassion for nature.
In the page of wands tarot card, an energetic, effervescent, and hopeful young person is gazing at a cut branch that magically produces green growth.
Maybe not such a bad card to draw on Good Friday after all.
Literally – I was "stumped."